The new cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, bring the total in the county to 360. Cases were reported at seven locations where members of the public may have been exposed to the highly contagious illness.
The new total is more than double the 165 cases reported last year. While there has been a significant increase in pertussis cases this year, the total is lower than the 1,179 cases reported in 2010 and the 400 cases reported in 2011.
“Pertussis activity continues to be high, and parents should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the vaccine,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.
A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. Antibiotics can lessen the severity of symptoms and prevent the spread of disease to others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. A Tdap booster shot is also recommended for preteens and adults.
“The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis,” Wooten added. “Infants under one year of age are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full series of pertussis vaccinations.”
Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.
For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit www.sdiz.org.